Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shakespeare Engaged!

I think our event last night was a success. We had about 80 people there, counting our classmates. And everything and everybody looked good, there weren't any embarrassing "technical difficulties," and the audience seemed to really enjoy our program.

I really liked the ways we involved the audience. Professor Burton's idea to have the audience share their "Shakespeare testimonies" was a great way to kick off the evening, and a good segue into sharing the blogs. We learned that Shakespeare is relevant to anything, whether it's serving the homeless, the nesting habits of cuckoo birds or cycling in the city of Boston.

After Averill's play, during the time that the audience could ask questions of the performers and documentary filmmakers, the idea came to me to ask the audience what they thought of seeing their family and friends up there on stage doing Shakespeare. I'm glad I thought of that, because I think it was another way for the audience to share the experience and to make the engagement a two-way street. And a few commented on how surprised and impressed they were with their friends and family and the production in general. Most people probably thought, "Class project? Yay [sarcastically]." They might have felt like they were watching their 12-year-old children playing "Hot Cross Buns" in a middle school concert, with squeaky clarinets and everything. But the actors did more than just memorize a few lines, and the documentary filmmakers did more than just turn on cameras.

I was very proud of everybody's projects. I was thinking about group projects I've done in the past, and I could tell that in this Shakespeare class, everybody worked hard. It didn't seem like there was anybody who did the minimum and then get their name put on the assignment anyway. Everybody put their heart and soul into it. And it was one of those few times when a group project actually made us all friends with each other.

Everything but the music video is available online. And everything will be put up on our Engaging Shakespeare website soon. (If that link doesn't work, try this one.)

Less Matter More Art

The group also got quite a response from their artwork posted on Deviant Art, and posted their lesson plans on a site called Connexions.

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark: An Abridged Audiobook
(There's some overlap during the first minute of the audio, so skip ahead)

Love's Labours

The World's a Stage
Although the music video isn't online yet, here's a clip from it.

Very cool stuff.


The four learning outcomes for the course were 1) to gain Shakespeare literacy, 2) to critically analyze Shakespeare, 3) to engage Shakespeare creatively and 4) to share Shakespeare.

1) With a whole course devoted to Shakespeare, the themes and methods woven among all of Shakespeare's works were more evident to me. The text became more interesting than intimidating. I still need a little help from class or from sites like Shmoop and Sparknotes. But after reading those notes I can read the original Shakespeare and appreciate the way he said it more than the way Shmoop or Sparknotes said it.

2) I think most of my critical analysis has been done vicariously through classmates, in class discussions and in our Engaging Shakespeare night. But I have tried harder to critically analyze the text than I did earlier this semester. Earlier I blogged about the word play in Love's Labours Lost, to try and look at the words and writing itself.

Maybe I haven't done very much literary analysis, but I have tried to figure out why Shakespeare did what he did, and why he chose the themes he did. Most recently I did this type of analysis with King Lear.

3) Engaging Shakespeare creatively has been the easiest for me. I try to be creative with everything I do, especially in a literature class like this that opens itself up to creativity. During this second half of the semester my creative efforts were focused more on "Engaging Shakespeare" than on reading plays, but I tried to be creative with our presentation.

Exhibit A - I designed this logo for the event:

4) Other than tweeting and Facebooking about the Engaging Shakespeare event, I failed at this. I had intentions to live tweet King Lear, but haven't done it yet. Maybe I still will sometime during finals week.

I did do a lot to share Engaging Shakespeare over the Internet. I made a Facebook group and invited any Facebook friends who are at or around BYU, and I tweeted through my account and The Daily Universe account as often as I thought I could get away with.

But I'm not sure if all of that was really affected. It would have been interesting to find out how many people came to our event because of Facebook or Twitter. My guess is that most (if not all) people found out through more personal contact, like being invited by a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate/friend, etc.

It will be exciting to see the future of our Engaging Shakespeare site. As more and more people find our projects over YouTube, Vimeo or Connexions, I hope the dialogue continues.


I thoroughly enjoyed this class and it will be among my favorite memories of being a BYU student. Besides learning about Shakespeare or literature, I gained knowledge and experience that I'm sure will help me in multiple ways in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment